Friday, December 16, 2011

Art Auction Final!

Remember the poster for the Prichard Art Gallery's 25th Annual Art Auction?  No?  Well, I was commissioned to create the poster for said event.  The concepts were posted not too long ago and you'll find them below if you're interested.  At any rate, I had hoped they would choose a particular concept (though I would have been happy finalizing any of the concepts) and so they did.  It was, however, the least finished of the set.

Initially, I had intended on leaving the piece relatively loose and painterly to try and capture the fun, free spirit of the gallery.  Aside: Not too long ago, I worked pretty much exclusively in water color.  At the time, I wanted water color to be capable of bold, rich, opaque colors and I was always dissatisfied with the result (gouache was too flaky and inconsistent and oil took too long to dry).  Of course, now that I paint digitally, I'm looking to recapture the feel of watercolor.  Oh, the irony.

Well, capturing the fun, free spirit of the gallery proved more complicated than I figured.  It turns out I'm neither fun nor free-spirited.  Here's what the conversation in my head sounded like:

My Intention: "Hey, I was thinking we could do this know, kind of loose."
My Militant OCD: "No."
My Intention: "But, it might be nice...kind of different."
MMOCD:  "No."
My Intention:  "But-"
MMOCD: "No."
My Intention: "Oh...ok."

Truth be told, one of the reasons I'm not a little more loose is that I love drawing detail.  I love drawing wood grain, the shine on a metal surface, individual hairs, dirt, etc.  For me, those details make an illustration.  And, when that's the case, what you get in the end looks something like this.


Art Installation Concept

I was contacted recently by a local artist submitting a proposal for a juried exhibition.  Gerri Sayler is a phenomenal artist who creates installation pieces that are both visually and intellectually interesting.  Gerri asked if I could draw up a sketch for her proposal.

The result is relatively different than anything I've produced up until this point, which made it pretty interesting.  It was a quick turnover, but I'm still happy with the result.

Thank You Cards

So, two sets of thank you cards.  The first was for Decagon Devices, Inc.  The initial project was for three different cards, which accounts for the number of concepts here (as much as I like Decagon, it's unlikely I would do twelve different concepts for a single card).  However, in the end we moved ahead with only one of them (top row, second from the left).  The set after is (as you could probably have surmised without the color commentary) variations on the design they picked.

The second card is one I put together for personal use.  My girlfriend threw me a surprise party for my 30th birthday, inviting pretty much all of my friends.  It was western themed and absolutely spectacular.  I decided to continue that them, both in the thank you card and throughout the rest of my life.

Choral Society Winter Ad

The title pretty much says it all.  This is just the info and a few of the graphic elements from the Palouse Choral Society's winter concert poster in a format for newspaper advertising.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Art Auction

The Prichard Art Auction is an annual event that raises much needed funds for a very fine art gallery.  As an undergraduate, I helped out in the Prichard as a show installer.  I helped put together quite a few shows, including one by Andrew Goldsworthy.

It's SO COOL to be able to work on these posters.   1.) It's an organization I love, not only because of the history I have with them, but also because of the phenomenal work they continue to do.  2.) It's staffed by phenomenal people I genuinely like.  3.) It's a great cause.  It literally makes our town a better place to live.  4.) There are no constraints on the posters.  That stands to reason, given that they're artists and are used to advocating for creative expression.  But even with conditions like that, it's easy to get prescriptive about an important event.  They don't, though.  They seem to enjoy the surprise and the variety (remember last year's caveman poster?).

So, here's what I presented to them.

The first is based on art as represented by mediums (not the Dionne Warwick variety).  I've always loved the tactile elements of art (even more so now that I work digitally).  I love the smell of oil clay and paint and wood shavings.  This concept is an ode to those mediums.  I also forgot to mention that this year is the 25th anniversary of the gallery, which is the "Silver Anniversary".  So the text is also a reference to that.  It's also an homage to "Madame X", a famous painting by one of my favorite artists of all time, John Singer Sargent.

Concept two: Stemming from one of the Prichard's missions, which is to champion artists, I drafted up this idea.  In this scenario, though, the auction acts as the arena in which people can be champions for the gallery itself.  Kind of like being a champion for a champion.  The background of the banner is based on some of the Prichard's design schemes.  Ultimately, though I like the concept, I think it's a little dark for an event where people are supposed to be having a nice evening.

Concept three:  My goal here was just to be irreverent (in spite of my reverence for the gallery).  I suppose I wanted to shake off the visual expectations of a poster for an elegant event (self-imposed expectations, I should note).  Art is many things to many people.  For me it's fun.  It represents the lust for life I try constantly to maintain (and seldom do).  The gallery is a great embodiment of this outlook.

The quote on this one is by a poet named Mary Oliver, who wrote my favorite poem ("Wild Geese").

One of these concepts has been chosen, but I won't tell which until later.



This was a pretty quick, fun little project.  It's the label design for a box of seasonal ammunition for a local company.  Concepts first, then the final.

Keep the change, ya filthy animal.

Fall Posters

I'm not sure why, but when beginning the concepts, I began with Winter.  Maybe because the visual elements were more visually appealing to me.  But, having hammered out the Winter poster, I realized that this year Fall came before Winter.  I was stunned when I found out.  Particularly because it meant I had put up the Christmas tree way too early.  It also meant the Fall concert (and subsequently the Fall concert poster) would be coming before the Winter concert and poster.  In spite of my request to make an exception this year and have Winter before Fall, traditional order was kept and I was forced to come up with the Fall concepts.

And here they are.  The second is the poster that was eventually chosen after a few minor changes.

Irreduceable Complexity

And from the flesh of that last concept were borne these two thingies:

"What gets put into the frame, then, if it isn't the composer?"  I asks myself.  Well, the concert's selections are essentially Christmas incarnate.  Many of these songs, even if you don't recognize the titles, would be instantly familiar to you.  Probably familiar to you in the way the smell of cinnamon is familiar, which is to say that, like music, the physical presence/reality of the thing is greatly augmented by the emotional memories it contains.

Along with symbols, pictograms and silhouettes, I've also been experimenting some with composite images comprised of those visuals.  It irks me a bit to see oversimplification (this, he says, after touting the beautiful simplicity of symbols).  Seriously, though, most things are way too complex to sum up with a single visual element.  So...why not use multiple images?  That was the genesis of this first derivation.

Two thoughts about it:  One, the candle under the hat makes me nervous.  It's a symbol of a candle and a symbol of a hat.  These things don't exist except as 2-dimensional representations of objects.  But still, that's an unsafe place to put a symbol of a candle.  It could start a symbolic representation of a fire and ruin the holidays for us all.  Second, the cassette tape is my favorite element.  My favorite Christmas music was a mix entitled "A Very Special Christmas" (on cassette tape, of course), which was a mix including the likes of Sting, Run-DMC, Bryan Adams and Stevie Nicks.  Boo yeah.

Concept two is a wreath made of frost.  Few things are as beautiful and graceful to me as frost.  The correlation between frost and choral music seemed perfect in my head, even though it deviates from the more simplistic silhouette-type images.  Ultimately, this poster was chosen as the final for the December concert.

Oh, did you think we were done?

Origin of the specious

So, while I really liked the idea of the pictogram composers, there had to be a method of distinguishing the posters from each other.  There are four concerts this season, which correlates nicely with seasonal visuals.  Thus, this concept was born.

I liked this one quite a bit.  Hassler was a stylish fella.  I'm pretty sure he was having Thanksgiving dinner one evening (probably a Thursday evening), looked at the turkey and thought, "Hey, those paper things on the turkey legs would look great around my neck."

When presented, however, there was concern that the visual of the composer was too obscure.  I couldn't disagree, so even though I loved the composers idea, it had to be 86-ed.  Other elements and the overall style of the poster were well-liked (the seasonal elements, the frame, and the landscape) and the subsequent concepts were built around those themes.


Choral Concert Posters


(Insert mea culpa for recent lack of posts here.)

Whew.  Glad I got that off my chest.  I think we all feel a little better now.

"Well," you might be thinking to yourself, imaginary reader of this blog, "I accept your apology for the post hiatus, but what exactly have you been doing with yourself lately?"

I'm glad you asked that.  Because unless you read the title of this post, you'd have absolutely no idea.  I've been working on any number of things.  One of them (as evidenced by the previous post) is trying to learn animation.  It's not a speedy process.  The learning curve is steep and it's extremely time-consuming.  I'm currently working on the second animation at the moment.  Apparently, it's healthy to feel out of your comfort zone as this feeling is indicative of growth.  I guess I'd just forgotten how often growth and the feeling of incompetence are synonymous.

One of my other projects has been, as the oh-so-germane title points out, concert posters for The Palouse Choral Society.  I met with the PCS team earlier this year to talk about the logo and the posters.  Like the logo project, this project has seen a pretty significant evolution between the initial concepts and the finished posters.  That change is usually an interesting one to watch.  It's even more interesting when you're right in the thick of it.

Here's the thing:  Music is extremely visceral.  Describing music can be a daunting task.  You can describe the lyrics or the notes in a concrete way, but it gets tougher to describe a melody (even if you specifically list the notes) and explaining the emotional complexity of the music is a handful for anyone.  That's probably why the "Draw Music" assignment is so ubiquitous in early design classes.  Striking the right emotional chord to visually describe a specific kind of music is hardly a science.  Add to that the goals of the organization itself and the plethora of opinions from everyone involved and you'll probably end up with a project that changes quite a bit over time.  Which is exactly what we have here.

Up front, we have three concepts.  One is based on the work of Alphonse Mucha.  I spent quite a while obsessing over the work of Mucha.  I've always been a great admirer of the craftsmanship and its graceful figures and exacting lines seemed like a good fit for choral music.

Concept two is based on an illustrated manuscript.  Because of their painstaking detail and spiritual affiliation, the illustrated manuscript also seemed like a perfect visual representation for the concerts.  However, after spending quite a while on this concept, I took a step back and realized I hated the damned thing.  So this one was never presented as an option.  I think it's ugly and amateurish, even for a concept.

The third concept came from a recent fascination with silhouettes, symbols and pictograms.  I like the simplicity and elegance of these kinds of illustrations.  More than that, though, I like the potential for humor in them.  They're so often used as serious means of communication (traffic signs, for instance) that putting them in other contexts seems funny (to me, anyway).  So I applied that idea to the composers responsible for the music in the concerts.

So, here's what these look like:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Technical Animation

Here's the first animation I've completed.  It was done using Photoshop and a demo version of ToonBoom Studio (hence the watermark).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Programs 2: Die Harder

I presented the concepts with the nagging feeling that I didn't really like any of them.  None of them were bad, necessarily, but I wasn't excited to turn them into finals.  I happened to mention I had a list of other ideas that I hadn't actually turned into concepts.  One of them was the scientists as action figures.

I had discarded this idea because I was worried it wasn't related enough to the subject.  But it's actually spot on in a number of ways.  Also, when an illustration accompanies a large body of text that describes the subject matter in detail, the illustration need not be so literal.  In fact, it might even be better if it strays from the subject slightly to create tension, draw attention, and avoid redundancy.  This is just a theory, of course, but it seems to hold water.

Plus, the little boy in me (or maybe it's more accurate to say "the little boy that I am") had a field day with this idea.  SO MUCH FUN.  I was obsessed with G.I. Joes when I was little.  This, in some ways, is my homage to my favorite toy of all time.  Accessories, over the top packaging art, those fused together fingers that always formed a "c" shape to grip items, semi-articulateable limbs.  Every bit of it was fun.  Plus, the background elements were also fun.  I was born in the 80s, but I still have a fascination with 1950s aesthetics.  Simplicity and elegance are two possible culprits.

Ok.  Less jaw.  More draw.



Perennially awesome client "Programs and People" recently brought me a new assignment about innovators in science.  The article features three men whose research into their respective fields is not only groundbreaking (sometimes literally), but also very marketable.  These men are Kerry Huber (who has discovered a way to allow the human body to block the starch in potato products from being turned into fat), Steve Love (native plant seed specialist), and Garth Sasser (livestock management).

Here's what I love about "Programs": The designer I work with is a friend of mine and is a genuine pleasure personally and professionally.  She's worked with many other contractors (as well as having done freelance work herself) and always treats me with respect.

"Programs and People" is a magazine produced by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho.  Working for any large organization often means being answerable to any number of administrators and managers as well as to a large, very diverse constituency.  Readers of "Programs" are likely all over the map in terms of political and socioeconomic positions.  It would be nearly impossible to keep this kind of group satisfied without creating something that's nice but relatively bland.  But "Programs" manages to consistently create an engaging publication and still allows people like me quite a bit of creative freedom.  My hat is off to people who can walk such a line.  It's one of the reasons I'm excited to work with them every year.

For the concepts, I focused on only one of the featured researchers (Garth Sasser) to simplify things.  The ideas were all based on the phrase, "Taking ideas to the marketplace".  The first (coin silhouette) was meant as ancillary art.  Concept two plays on the fact that Sasser's research affects dairy products.  Concept three is based on a turn of the century sign and concept four is a fictitious 1960s space-age science magazine.  These concepts would have been applied to each of the other subjects eventually.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Decagon: SDI

This is a set of concept illustrations for a new Decagon project.  It involves a new method of data transmission between sensors and data loggers.  My understanding is that, essentially, this method greatly simplifies what would ordinarily be a fairly complicated sensor array.

The illustration is meant to show the path a client's data would take from its source to the client's computer.  Beginning at the greenhouse (where the sensors are installed), the data is collected and routes through a kind of sensor hub which relays the data to a data logger and then on to a computer.

I tried a few new approaches in this one, including using an X-ray-like visual for the sensor installation illustration.  You would think that, after the factory illustrations (see old blog post for reference), I would have learned my lesson about multiple-point perspectives.  But the fact is that it just makes for a more interesting visual.  And the more compelling the visual, the more likely it is that the viewer will absorb the information.

There will likely be thorough revisions to this set, but overall I think the set does its job nicely.


Palouse Choral Society Postcards

Here are a few designs I worked up for an advertising postcard for the Palouse Choral Society.  They're essentially just to let people know the organization changed its name and about upcoming concert dates.

Breakfast Club Menu

Well, according to the Blogspot Dashboard, I haven't posted since August 4th.  Rest assured that, as today is September 4th, I have spent the last month feeling like a bad person for my posting celibacy.  I've been swamped.  This time of year is nearly always intensely busy for me.  It has to do mainly with a few annual clients whose publishing dates always land right around the same time.

At any rate, here's the first of many posts I'll put up in the next few days.  I was hired recently to create an illustration for a local restaurant's menu cover.  This restaurant is a local fixture and one that I frequent, so it was a cool gig.  Essentially, they asked me to draw the front of the restaurant.  And that I did.

These are, respectively, the initial (a larger version), various layouts and compositions of that piece, and finally a revised version.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lindy's Round 2

One quickie (the clipboard) from this morning and one sketch of Bruce Pearl that didn't end up getting used.

Process Photos


Remember the fair cut-out project?  Well, it's pretty much wrapped up.  Here are some photos of the project as it came together over the last two weeks or so.  Keep in mind these are 4' x 8'.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lindy's Basketball

It's been "Lindy's" time again this week.  Which is part of the reason I've been so busy.  One of the articles in the upcoming college basketball issue has to do with Indiana's teams and how there's been a bit of a reversal of fortune between two in particular.

Part of the article suggests that, were we to go back in time to 1985 (when "Back to the Future" was made), we'd find the status of these two teams to be the complete opposite of what they are presently.  So opposite, in fact, that it would seem like a weak plot device in a bad piece of fiction.  So that's the genesis of this illustration.

This one was done at break-neck speed, but in spite of that I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.


PagePipe elements

Here are a few illustrations for the website Pagepipe.  There was a pretty pronounced shift in the approach to the site and these illustrations are the result.

New Splash Screen

A new splash screen for one of Decagon's microsites (Aqualab).

Recycling Process

Remember the initial sketches for this project?  Well, if it's your first time to this blog, probably not.  It's for a recycling company and is meant to generally describe both small scale and industrial recycling processes.

But if you do happen to remember it, this is what the final (tentatively) looks like.  There's always the possibility that additional changes will need to be made, but it's likely at this point that said changes will be minimal (is there an emoticon for crossing your fingers?).

Overall assessment:  Fun.
Favorite part: Drawing the trucks.
Least favorite part: I find drawing tires tiresome.

Man, I love what I do.

Don't call it a comeback...

Because it was really more of a retort.  Nevermind.  That's retorted.

There has been a bit of a gap in posts as of late, no?  This is the point where I would normally explain that I've been intensely busy, make my apologies and a few jokes, and then promise never to do it again ever ever.  But I'm a bit pressed for time, so if you could think back to one of the dozen or so times I've already done that (just pick your favorite) and mentally insert it here, we'll get to the actual work much faster.  Done?  Ok, cool.

Here's the final for the Lysimeter splash screen.  I likes it.  At this point I've pretty much exhausted my conversational Lysimeter knowledge, so I'll just post the piece.  It was well-received and hopefully I'll get to do a few more at some point.

I'm also going to post some illustrations I did explaining how to refill your differential pressure transducer.  Yup, finally gave in to all those requests that were inundating my inbox.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tell me lys, tell me sweet little lys...

The hydrology division of Decagon Devices, Inc. asked me to work up a few concepts for a new microsite that features lysimeters.

*Caveat: I hereby offer an advance apology to any soil scientists and hydrologists for my layman's explanation of this equipment and process.  A hydrology apology.  Heh heh.  I'm such a nerd.

A lysimeter is essentially a piece of equipment (well, multiple pieces of equipment to be specific) that allows very accurate observation and measurement of a given environment.  The data is used in climate research, water management, agronomy, and soil science.

Some of this might look familiar if you've seen the posts on this blog about the drain gauge project.  The drain gauge is made by Decagon.  The other lysimeters are made by a German company called UMS.  These things are huge.  They're a meter tall.

Have I mentioned before that I love my job?  Have I mentioned how much I love technical illustration like this?  Well, this project is no exception.  I've tried to explain before the impetus of this, and maybe that's a fool's errand.  I've cited before that technical illustration is very exacting and clean, which likely appeals to certain dominant personality traits of mine.  I may or may not have been German or Swiss in a past life.

I think there's more, though.  This kind of work (specifically this project) involves drawing lots of different materials (metal, soil, plastic) which means drawing a lot of textures, surface treatments, the way light reflects off those surfaces, a variety of colors, etc.  It's challenging and there's enough variety that it never seems repetitious.

I also love utilizing illustration to make something possible that can't really be done in other mediums.  I dare you to cut a lysimeter in half so you can see a cross section of it.  It's pretty hard to do that with soil, too.  Not impossible, but difficult to be sure.  And time-consuming.  And the result probably won't be as pretty.

There's a lot of talk about illustration being obsolete these days.  As if the ease of digital video and photography make illustration into an antiquated piece of ornament.  But, as just noted, illustration can make possible visuals that you just can't create other ways.  A cross section, an exploded view of an engine, step by step processes, the inner workings of mechanical or biological systems, multiple perspectives, hypothetical situations, etc.

Let alone the imaginative realms made possible through illustration.  Illustration can show other worlds and realities.  It can be infused with personality and emotion.  Illustration can narrate and explain.  Apparently, because of the cerebral cortex, humans are the only creatures who can create hypothetical situations in their heads.  We can imagine.  And illustration is this imagination made manifest.  And all of these things make illustration completely relevant, regardless of technological advances.

I didn't really mean for this to turn into a dissertation.  But I won't apologize.  I'm sorry, but that's just the way I am.